The Adult Egg Baby Project: Adventures In Sitcom Parenting

IntroPhotographed by Rockie Nolan.
I had an idea...actually the high school health class teacher on Charles in Charge had the idea first. “We’re supposed to take an ordinary egg and pretend it’s a baby,” explained Sarah Powell, Charles’ over-enthusiastic teen client on an episode of the '80s sitcom, entitled “The Egg and Us.” If you were a fictional student in the '80s and '90s or a real student in select schools around the country, you’re probably familiar with the egg-parenting assignment. Folks like Powell, Buffy Summers, and 7th Heaven’s Lucy Camden were tasked with caring for an egg (or in Hannah Montana’s case, a bag of flour) for a week to learn the responsibilities of parenting. Usually, hijinks ensue, and everyone discovers they're not nearly mature enough to be a parent.
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Maybe it was unfulfilled fantasies of being a TV teen or all those work-life balance debates I've been reading about, but I decided to launch an egg baby project at Refinery29. One week, one egg, five childless grown-ups and a few ground rules based on real high school egg assignments.
Rule 1: Eggs must be drained of their life force so they’re particularly fragile and not smelly.
Rule 2: Eggs must be named and individually decorated by a designated egg parent.
Rule 3: Each parent must provide a safe, aerated carriage for their kid.
Rule 4: Egg babies must be attended to at all times by an egg parent, or a trustworthy babysitter.
Rule 5: DON’T BREAK THE EGG.
At the end of the week, each person fills out a questionnaire on their experience. We're all adults here — how hard could it be? Spoiler alert: not all of the eggs survived.
ConniePhotographed by Rockie Nolan.
Egg parent: Connie Wang
Egg baby name: Mishell
Lifespan: The full seven days!
Injury report: Pristine.
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How do you feel about your egg baby after a week?
After a week of taking the egg baby around, having my boyfriend babysit it while I was at work, walking around my neighborhood wearing an egg-baby pendant around my neck like a crazy person, and having to explain to my friends why an egg with a face was on the dinner table (and what it was that I did again for work), I was definitely happy to get rid of it. In fact, I planned on ceremoniously cracking it at the end of the week, but I haven't brought myself to do it yet. Something about her eyes…
What were the most difficult moments as an egg-baby parent?
Forgetting her. Maybe this happens to real parents, too (hopefully not?), but I kept leaving Mishell behind at restaurants, at work, at home, or at stores, and always had to run back and get her. Also, though I explained the rules very carefully to my boyfriend, I don't think they quite sunk in. There were a couple times when he had to transport Mishell, and I found out he had kept her in his backpack or pants pocket (!!!). Communication is very important for new parents. Also, not putting the baby in a backpack.
How did people react to your egg baby?
I had a big dilemma the first day regarding whether it looked more like a crazy person thing to do to walk around with an egg in your hand, or with an egg around your neck. Also, did it seem crazier to carry around an egg with facial features or just a plain egg? People on the subway were too nice to say anything (or maybe they're just inured to crazy New Yorkers in general), but waitresses and friends were definitely asking about it. I also got carded way more during the process, since this egg project is sort of a high school thing, not a mid-20s, normal-person thing.
Do you think you’d make a good egg parent?
I would. My boyfriend, who is a freelancer that works from home, helped out with the babysitting. He wore the baby bjorn (made out of a surgical mask) for a whole day — bless him. However, on one of the last days when I mentioned that we forgot Mishell, I heard him mutter under his breath, "I hate that egg."
HaydenPhotographed by Rockie Nolan.
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Egg Parent: Hayden Manders
Egg baby name: Baby Gal RiRi
Lifespan: One full week
Injury report: A lost hair extension
Why did you agree to this crazy egg-parenting project?
I've always known that I'm not a kids kind of guy. I tried babysitting once in, like, fourth grade, but hated it. So, I was obviously the necessary Negative Nancy candidate for this project.
Did being a parent warm your cold, cold heart?
I entered it thinking that caring for a wee-little egg would be a breeze, but man was I wrong. Baby Gal RiRi, in all her muteness, was on my mind all day, every day. Even walking to and from work with her securely in my bag, I found myself imagining all the ways the other objects floating around could break her. She became both the bane and joy of my existence.
How do you feel about your egg baby after a week?
Honestly, Rihanna was a little annoying. She had to tag along to literally everything I went to since there's an egg-babysitter shortage, and some places are NOT suitable for egg babies. No matter, though, Baby Gal RiRi survived uncracked and blemish-free.
What were the most difficult moments as an egg-baby parent?
There was no way to not think about her condition. I could be at a concert, doing an interview, or simply laying in bed trying to sleep and her well-being would be at the forefront of my mind.
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What was the most rewarding moment?
Seeing how beautiful she looked when she got her green hair extensions.
Is the idea of parenting more daunting now that you’ve had an egg?
No, not necessarily. Parenting has always seemed daunting to me. Having to care for a hollow egg just reaffirmed my assumptions.
Who did you turn to for help with egg-rearing?
My roommate slash best friend (he was Baby Gal RiRi's babysitter when I went away). He used to babysit, and he loves kids, so I knew he'd be a shoulder to lean on.
What did you learn about yourself in this process?
At the end of the week, I realized how not ready for children I am — if I'll ever be ready at all. I loved having mute- company, but I also loathed how often I thought of her. I kept Baby Gal RiRi alive and crack-free, but that's not the point here. The egg baby project worked in scaring me away from young adult parenthood. You win, responsibility.
Kelsey1Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
Egg Parent: Kelsey Miller
Egg baby name: Luther
Lifespan: 12 days and counting!
Injury report: None
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How do you feel about your egg baby after a week?
Over it. By day three when he lost his Instagram appeal, Luther pretty much hung out in my purse. However, looking at him resting atop my desk, I suddenly feel awful that I said I was over him. Is this mom-guilt? Should I buy him something?
What condition is your egg baby in after seven days?
My baby is PERFECT.
What were the most difficult moments as an egg-baby parent?
Balancing him on things to take pictures of him for Instagram. Egg babies, like real babies, aren't great at sitting up.
What was the most rewarding moment?
The Instagram likes he brought me. Sorry, Luther. Learn to talk and maybe our relationship will improve. Oh God, the mom-guilt is back. Luther's getting a puppy.
How did people react to your egg baby?
Pretty much the way you'd expect people to react to a grown-ass woman carrying around an egg baby.
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How did your day change with the added egg-sponsibilities?
There was a lot more of those oops-forgot-my-phone moments when I walked out the door. But, with an egg baby.
Do you think you’d make a good egg parent?
I think the above responses paint a pretty clear picture.
How about being a real parent: Did you learn anything about being a real parent?
Luther confirmed my belief that I'm not yet ready to parent anyone besides my cat. And, he sleeps 18 hours a day.
Is the idea of parenting more daunting now that you’ve had an egg?
Well, we were supposed to keep our eggs in open containers so they could "breathe." I'm pretty sure everyone doing this project cheated and just wrapped their eggs in bubble wrap, threw it in their bag, and called it a day. I think if I actually had to bring a baby everywhere with me, AND let it breathe, the process would be a lot harder. Also, y'know, parenting.
Who did you turn to for help with egg-rearing?
No one. I was a single egg-mom.
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What did you learn about yourself in this process?
Eggs are for omelets. Ack, can't believe I said that. Luther gets a pony!
JessicaPhotographed by Rockie Nolan.
Egg parent: Jessica Novak
Egg baby name: Ryan (Gosling)
Lifespan: Seven days!
Injury report: None (Though there were several close calls)
How do you feel about your egg baby after a week?
At first, I slightly resented my egg baby, as it presented yet another drain on my already scarce time, requiring attention, care, and at least one free hand while I tried to juggle multiple items (oftentimes to the detriment of my morning cup of coffee). But, at the end of the week, I was surprised to feel mildly attached to baby Ryan; whether it was the nature of our mother-egg bond or his remarkable likeness to Ryan Gosling is hard to say.
What were the most difficult moments as an egg-baby parent?
The most difficult moments were those that I usually take for granted: my morning run, trips to the grocery, and going out at night. There was really no easy way to incorporate my egg-child into my running regimen, so I admittedly shirked my duties on occasion and left him at home...in front of morning cartoons, of course. And, when it came time for Saturday night, I took him with me to a crowded music venue where we definitely had some close calls. But, many thanks to my dexterous maneuvering and highly protective travel case, we both made it through unscathed.
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Is the idea of parenting more daunting now that you've had an egg?
The idea of being a parent has always been fairly daunting, but having an egg for a week made me realize that parenting can also be isolating.
Who did you turn to for help with egg-rearing?
I largely cared for my egg on my own, but did turn to my boyfriend for help constructing Ryan’s habitat, which consisted of a neon pink arm band that I normally use for running and zebra-print duct tape. He was only mildly embarrassed to be seen with me in public.
Do you think you'd make a good egg parent?
If the past week was any indication, my egg-parenting skills are still a work in progress. Though I managed to keep my egg intact, I refused to sacrifice my own personal routine — my morning jog, my nights out — for my egg-baby.
How about being a real parent: Did you learn anything about being a real parent?
Given that I left my egg at home on numerous occasions (oops), I learned that, perhaps, I am not cut out for parenthood — at least not right now. I definitely want to be a parent someday, but until I can successfully care for an inanimate object, today is not that day.
PiperPhotographed by Rockie Nolan.
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Egg parent: Piper Weiss
Egg baby name: Screech (Please note: It's a girl)
Lifespan: Six days
Injury report: Fatal cracking. Investigation ongoing.
How do you feel about your egg baby after a week?
At first, when I decorated her, I felt the kind of tenderness one feels for an underdog. The sparkle pen I used to draw her lips kept leaking down her chin, and I knew pretty soon, this egg was screwed. By day two I was actually feeling sort of protective. Screech had survived my bag, thanks to some bubble wrap and an iPhone box and I felt she was something of a trooper. Her hair, which despite being made out of a gift-wrap string, looked a lot like mine as a kid, slightly coaxed out my maternal side. When I went to a party, I perched her in a corner behind a couch and then started to feel a little anxious she’d be sat on or worse, mocked by drunk partygoers. And, I thought about her depressingly twisted smile through it all. I was projecting, I know, but the feelings were there. That lasted until the weekend when she was really becoming an annoying accessory.
What condition is your egg baby in after seven days?
She broke. During Baby’s first photo shoot on day six, she was perched on a table in the photo department and someone (nobody will own up to it) knocked her off. She was returned to me with her top half still intact, that old bloody grin still beaming, but her lower half was in five different pieces. Our photo editor offered to glue her back together, but I figured she wouldn’t have wanted that, considering she's a projection of my psyche with a horrifying egg face.
How did your day change with the added egg-sponsibilities?
I had to think about babysitters, and as a single parent, I realized I had few options. I hate asking for favors and I realized, in all seriousness, how many people a single parent might have to rely on in order to make time to accomplish other things.
Do you think you’d make a good egg parent?
Obviously not.
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What did you learn in this process?
Real parents speak the truth: You try to be a good mom, you do everything you think is right, and still, you screw up. Lesson learned.
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